Final Portrait Of John And Yoko Is On The Cover Of Rolling Stone

After the shocking assassination of John Lennon, thousands of mourners gathered spontaneously outside his and Yoko Ono’s Central Park West apartment building, the Dakota. Tens of thousands more gathered six days later in New York, Liverpool and other world cities to honor Yoko’s request for a silent, 10-minute vigil in John’s memory. Radio airwaves were […]

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Ian Curtis Of Joy Division Commits Suicide

On the evening of May 18, 1980, Ian Curtis, lead singer and lyricist of the British group Joy Division, hangs himself in his Manchester kitchen. He was only 23 years old. Joy Division was one of four hugely important British post-punk bands that could trace its origins to a now-legendary performance by the Sex Pistols […]

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Paul McCartney Is Released From A Tokyo Jail And Deported From Japan

Paul McCartney’s arrival at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport on January 16, 1980, marked his first visit to Japan since the Beatles tour of 1966. The occasion was a planned 11-city concert tour by his band Wings. Instead, Paul’s visit was limited to a nine-day stint in the Tokyo Narcotics Detention Center, which ended on this […]

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The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” Becomes Hip-hop’s First Top 40 Hit

Hip hop’s roots as a musical phenomenon are subject to debate, but its roots as a commercial phenomenon are much clearer. They trace back directly to January 5, 1980, when the song “Rapper’s Delight” became the first hip hop single ever to reach the Billboard top 40. Prior to the success of “Rapper’s Delight,” hip […]

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Disco Is Dealt Death Blow By Fans Of The Chicago White Sox

As the 1970s came to an end, the age of disco was also nearing its finale. But for all of its decadence and overexposure, disco didn’t quite die a natural death by collapsing under its own weight. Instead, it was killed by a public backlash that reached its peak on this day in 1979 with […]

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The First Sony Walkman Goes On Sale

The transistor radio was a technological marvel that put music literally into consumers’ hands in the mid-1950s. It was cheap, it was reliable and it was portable, but it could never even approximate the sound quality of a record being played on a home stereo. It was, however, the only technology available to on-the-go music […]

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Tom Petty Defies His Record Label And Files For Bankruptcy

The music industry is notorious for its creative accounting practices and for onerous contracts that can keep even some top-selling artists perpetually in debt to their record labels. In a typical recording contract, a record label advances an artist a certain sum of money against future earnings from royalties. But because the cost of things […]

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Peaches And Herb Top The Pop Charts With “Reunited”

To paraphrase Shakespeare, that which we call a peach by any other name would taste as sweet. But would it sound as catchy? This was the question that faced Herbert Feemster as he contemplated his future in the music business in the mid-1970s. The answer he came up with led directly to the highlight of […]

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Sid Vicious Dies Of a Drug Overdose In New York City

To the New York City Police Department and Medical Examiner’s Office, he was John Simon Ritchie, a 22-year-old Englishman under indictment for murder but now dead of a heroin overdose in a Greenwich Village apartment. To the rest of the world, he was Sid Vicious, former bassist for the notorious Sex Pistols and the living […]

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Pop Luminaries Gather At The U.N. For The Music For UNICEF Concert

In an effort to call attention to the poverty, malnutrition and lack of access to quality education affecting millions of children throughout the developing world, the United Nations proclaimed 1979 the “International Year of the Child.” To publicize the proclamation and raise money for UNICEF—the United Nation’s Children’s Fund—plans were laid for a concert fundraiser […]

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